Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Stamp Give-Away

Once a month, on the first day of the month, I post a couple of new or gently used stamps to give away. They usually relate to an upcoming holiday. If you want them, leave me a comment and let me know. But you have to be quick! I'll pick the winner in the next 24 hours. The sentiment stamp is from Club Scrap. The shamrock is from Inkadinkado.
Let me know if you want the pair.
Updated to add: Congratulations to Beverly on winning these St. Patty's stamps! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Altered Blocks, Part 2

Yesterday, I posted some altered blocks I made using vintage heritage photographs from my collection.  After I made those, I made a few more using the Graphic 45 "On the Boardwalk" paper collection.  The block above has a fun bathing beauty theme.  
I also made a set of three alphabet blocks using the same paper line:
They were fun and fast to make, but I wish I would have made them spell out a word. Oh well, I have lots more blocks to play with!
Tomorrow is the first of the month, which means it's time for my monthly 24-hour stamp give-away. See you then!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Altered Blocks: Feb. Monthly Make, Part 1

When I was cleaning and organizing my craft space, I came across a good selection of wooden blocks. After seeing some of the cool blocks which Deb made, I decided to use my January counterfeit kit to make some altered blocks.  I know it's now the end of February, but I finally used my January counterfeit kit to make a block with a vintage friendship theme:
After getting the hang of it, I made this one with some more heritage photos from my collection:
I like this one better than the first one which I made.  Partly because I love the quote which I put on it (you can read it in the photo at the top of the post), but mostly because it just came together and seemed to flow. I really like having a single block which conveys a certain message. Tomorrow I'll feature a few more blocks, including one that is a set.
I made this as part of the "Monthly Make" challenge organized by the Felt Fairy.  To see a list of participants and their projects, check out this link.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jeweley or Camera: What's a Girl to Do?

Regular blog readers will know that, as part of my one little word for 2012 ("home"), I've been organizing and decluttering my house - room by room. One project that resulted from this was a need to organize my jewelry, repair some damaged pieces and refurbish others.  In particular, I had three loose stones (a diamond from my original engagement ring and two emeralds from my Uncle) which I wanted to have made into a new piece of jewelry. Working with a local jeweler, we found this ring design, which I really like and which will fit my stones perfectly. But then things went a little sideways. They quoted me a new price, which was about 10% higher than the original one. They gave some explanation, but it just didn't feel right to me. So, I walked away from the arrangement.  My husband has offered to talk to a different jeweler (the new ring is a combination birthday/valentine's day present).  Alternately, it looks like I could get a new camera for about the same price - the Nikon D5100, to be precise.
He correctly points out that I've been talking about a new camera for quite a while, as I've outgrown my Nikon D50.  And the D5100 would fit me perfectly.
So, what do you think? Jewelry or camera? What's a girl to do?
Weekly 2012 one little word check in.  This week,
1. I organized the tall cupboards in the kitchen, which hold our liquor, stemware, cookbooks, table linens and appliances.  The most interesting things I threw away were half a bag of birdseed (no idea where that came from!) and four different editions of Robert Parker's Wine Guides.  Also got rid of a never-used pasta maker.
2. Paul pruned the fruit trees. I had tried to call several different tree guys but that didn't work. So, Paul did them. Although it wasn't me, I still feel like it was an accomplishment. Similarly,
3. Paul organized the spice cabinet.  He threw away things that expired last decade! Although I didn't do it, the task is still done. And I know he's been inspired by my efforts. So I'm adding it to my list.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prayer Flag Sampler #1: Trust in Love (PPF)

I missed Paint Party Friday last week, but I'm back today to share the beginning of a new project.  I'm making a Prayer Flag Design Sampler.  I started with a small (about 3"x6") chipboard book which I had covered with gesso. On each of the eight pages, I plan to paint a design for a prayer flag. I think I'll try to stay with the traditional prayer flag color palette (blue, white, red, green and yellow) and put a message on each one that I want to send out to the world. Don't know whether I'll ever turn the designs into larger prayer flags, but I know I'll enjoy this process.
Here's my first flag:  Trust in Love.  One aspect of my one little word for 2012 "Home" is a commitment to nurture my family. To be honest, my 13 year old daughter is very challenging right now. But I trust in love to get us through this tough time.  
Yes love. And cocktails.  Because it is Friday after all. And we made it through a pretty good week with her.
How about you? Are you ready to celebrate Friday?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February Self-Portrait: Write On

The February theme for the "In the Picture" self portrait challenge is "Write On."  I took a picture of my hand holding one of the butterflies I created for Deb's butterfly project, remembering children who perished in the holocaust. The writing on the butterfly says "to honor and remember." I chose to feature the butterfly in my self-portrait because it it is a reflection of me in so many ways - it's my artwork and very true to my style.  It includes photographs of children from Houston (my Aunt and Uncle) and it will be going to a museum installation in Houston. I love the full circle feeling of that. Finally, my father liberated a concentration camp in World War II. His account was chilling and has always stuck with me.  It's a self-portrait because it includes my hand. But it's also a self-portrait because it includes my heart and soul.
For other self-portraits, check out this link.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

art journal/art diary (and faces 16 and 17)

It's been a while since I used my art journal as an art diary to just record some of the daily stuff going on around the house, but I made these pages recently doing just that.  The main page is about the fact that Henry is doing a bunch of college tours this week. The kids have the week off school for what is normally called "ski week," but since there's been so little snow, we didn't go skiing.  I made this page about the lack of rain and snow this year:
Henry's not sure what he wants to do in college (or afterwards), but he does not he's not a math and science guy.  I made the following page to recognize that revelation:
The last two pages incorporate faces #16 and #17 from the 29 21 Faces Challenge I'm doing.  I kindof like the whimsical nature of the last one - he's the mad scientist which Henry will never be! LOL! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Found in the Attic

I chose "Home" as my one little word for 2012, and I have been working on organizing and decluttering my house - room by room. This week, I decided to tackle the small attic storage area inside the house. The kids have the week off school, and Clara pitched in to help complete this mammoth task. One surprise I found was a large stash of counted cross-stitch projects.  I'd forgotten about these entirely.  I found over a dozen unopened kits (mostly Holiday and baby-related) and supplies which I gave away on freecycle:
(Just FYI - the other things I freecycled were an aerobic step; two largish plastic toddler push toys; an old globe that still had the USSR on it; a telescope; a picnic basket; and a largish plastic toddler slide - I love freecycle!) 
I also found half-a-dozen projects-in-process.  I think it's been ten years since I worked on them, but, since they were all over half done, I decided to hang onto them.  My favorite is up top - a group of Humel girls.  Here's a few others:
I decided to join the Felt Fairy's Monthly Make, so that will be a good incentive to finish some of these up. What kind of surprise craft projects do you have lurking in your storage areas?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Music Monday: Found with Shazam

It's been a while since I've posted music recommendations. Today, I'm sharing some songs I found through Shazam.  That means when I heard the song on my car radio, I used the Shazam app to find the song title and artist.  It's also a great way to keep a record of songs I like.  The video above, Train's Drive By is a current favorite. Love the melody; love the San Francisco Bay Area locale; love the cars; love everything!
Next up, Changing by The Airborne Toxic Event:

Great music, and fantastic dancing!!!  And for more fun, check out the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Impression that I Get:

Here's something with a feminine vibe and a little craftiness thrown into the video:

Finally, Bruce Springsteen's voice and passion still makes my heart pound:

Got any favorites today? How do you find your new music? Do you use shazam?
Weekly OLW Check-In: 
1. We got our nonfunctioning hot tub and outgrown playstructure hauled away by our yard service! This goes a long way to tidying up the backyard.  
2. Clara and cleaned out our small attic. We tossed four bags of garbage; created four big boxes of toys to donate; crushed and recycled over a dozen old boxes; and put six suitcases and two car seats into the dump run pile. Plus I gave away a bunch of stuff through freecycle.
3. I organized the clutter on the kitchen breakfast table. Next step is putting it away. LOL!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rethinking 29 Faces

I've been participating in Ayala's 29 Faces Challenge, but I was starting to get stressed because I was falling behind.  So, I gave myself permission to create 21 Faces instead of 29 and I felt so much better. In my more relaxed state, I created faces #12, 13, 14 and 15.  I started with these two faces because I wanted to focus on lips and eyes. I think the key to lips may be that there needs to be shading and highlights. And I think I need to work on making my eyes bigger.
Then, I moved on to trying to incorporate faces into art journal pages, and I came up with this page using a watercolor face:
Finally, I created the page up top,which was my favorite. It feels really good to be art journaling again, and I'm really happy to find a way to start incorporating my faces on my pages.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Where I've Been (on the Pitch)

I've been spending a lot of time out at the soccer pitch lately. The end of the high school season comes with a burst of activity . . . the last few games bunched together; the senior honors game; coordinating uniform returns and ordering the end of season awards. It's always bittersweet to close the page on the season and say good-bye to the seniors, including:
Chato (a kid whose life is pretty rough and for whom making the team has meant so much)
Alex (who's also an awesome baseball player and whose mom is one of my best friends)
Omar (one of the few four year soccer players and a boy with whom Henry has played off-and-on since he was six years old)
Mischa (he loves soccer and was crushed when he didn't make the team last year; so glad he made it for his senior year)
Alex (our striker who has struggled with keeping his grades high enough to remain eligible for play; this year, he managed to do that and had a great season):
Juancarlos (awesome defender and another four year player; an all league selection with a very ready smile)
Spending time on these boys is definitely worth it, but I'm looking forward to getting back to my art desk.  (And Henry has already played his first high school baseball game of the year!).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Faces 9, 10, 11 and Some Reflection

I'm somewhere between a third and half way through the 29 faces challenge, and I've learned a few things. Let me know if any resonate with you.
1. I can draw a basic face now. It doesn't scare me, and I could confidently add a face to an art journaling page or card or mail art envelope if I wanted to.
2. I'm getting the hang of eyes, but mouths still elude me.
3. Using more than one media or color creates a more satisfying end result.  Even if I start with oil pastels (Sybil) or acrylics (overworked), it helps A LOT to add pen, pencil or marker to add definition.
4. I'm getting to the point where I want to create more than just the face - adding bodies, clothes and the scene will probably be the focus for the next part of this project.
5. I'm not sure I've found my "style." I really like the water color faces (like I did yesterday) but I don't see those working into my larger mixed media pieces. The faces from today seem more likely to be useful in that regard. Although I could see the water color faces on cards.
6. It's hard for me to stick with a project past the two week mark.
7. Joining a blog challenge is a great way to meet all kinds of new blog friends! I've discovered some wonderful new blogs and artists through the challenge.  I'm off to visit some of them now. If you want to see them, check out the tags at this post.
OLW Weekly Check-In:
This week, I cleaned out the laundry room, which also meant I organized the china buffet and display case. Tossed out two big bags of garbage and came up with one more bag of stuff to donate.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Soccer Faces/Soccer Stories

My faces #7 and #8 for the 29 faces challenge turned into soccer players - one has a Diego Maradona feel and the other a bit of Roy Keane going on.  They seemed good artwork to blog a few stories from my son's high school season. Long time blog readers will remember that the boys had an amazing season last year, going on a championship run that was truly special and will be remembered all their lives.  This year has been a different story. Nine of our players graduated, and we moved up to a higher division fielding a much weaker team.  They're currently 3-7-2, with two games left to play. We're fighting against relegation. 
But, in the midst of that, there's been rays of hope as well:
1.  They boys haven't given up. They keep trying and, in the last three games, have gone 2-0-1. I think they will finish the season with their heads held high.
2. For the first time in recent memory, none of the boys were removed from the team for poor academic records. The grade cut-off is not that demanding, but the soccer players typically come from disadvantaged backgrounds and we usually lose one or two to poor grades. This year, every single one has managed to stick with the team, and we have many players focused on going to college.
3. We had a wonderful ceremony for our first Friday night home match where we unveiled a sign for last year's championship, as well as the newly purchased and installed signs marking the school's 13 previous championships.  We had at least one player from each of those championship years in attendance at the ceremony.
4. Last Friday night, we had a crowd of almost 200 fans for "Youth Soccer Night."
5. On a personal note, DS Henry has been attending college I.D. camps and showing well.  He has at least one college that is very interested in having him play for them. When a different college complimented his skills but suggested he should focus on non-Division 1 schools, he said he might print that email out, use it as motivation and then send it to the coach after he makes a Division 1 team!
It turns out that there are many measures of success I guess, and even without a shiny championship patch for this season, it seems the boys have done pretty well.  Wouldn't you agree?

Friday, February 10, 2012

blue butterfly

Deb, of the Paper Turtle blog, is collecting hand made butterflies to send to the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas, a part of their "Butterfly Project" to remember the children killed in the holocaust.  You can read more about it here.  I made this blue butterfly out of plaster, decorated with acrylic paint on top.  My favorite part is actually the underside.
After painting with acrylic paint, I collaged on vintage pictures of children and wrote "To honor and remember" around the edge.  This one feels much more like "me" and my style than the pink butterfly I made before.
But I really like the way the look together.  They'll be winging their way to Deb soon!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Peek Inside My China Buffet (10 on the 10th)

Not too long ago, Stacey of Havoc and Mayhem posted about the various sets of dishes she owns. It got me thinking about my own sets of china and how I store them.  Especially as this year I am working on cleaning, organizing and purging my home - room by room. And I had to admit that there were several boxes of dishware lurking in my laundry room, of all places. 
And that probably meant the laundry room was a good candidate for my attention.  This beautiful Japanese tea set, as well as some awesome depression glass arrived in the laundry room from my Aunt Vera's house in Texas.
My sister and I cleared out her house after she passed away, and I claimed these, as well as her china.
I put the china in my china cabinet, but the rest of the boxes got shelved in the laundry room. We keep our china - a Noritake set we chose when we got married - in the buffet.
When we got married, we also got a full set (plus lots of serving pieces) of Pfaltzgraf stoneware.
The stuff was indestructible. After 20+ years of marriage, we still had a full set.  But we were horribly bored with it.  So, I gave it all away (except for this serving piece which somehow escaped the freecycle), and we purchased a simple set of white French apilco blue-banded porcelain dishes.
The simple white china with the gold band on top is our "kids china." We bought four plates like this for the kids to use when they were little, and we were using our good china.  We bought them at an antique/thrift store. Because we've always loved visiting these stores and adding to our collection of blue willow china.
I guess the truth is that Paul and I have both always had a soft spot for china and glassware. We even bought some beautiful poppy countryware from Herend when we were in Hungary.
My own addiction probably started with the Belleek jar pictured at the top of the post.  My best friend's mom gave it to me for my high school graduation and told me that she thought it was time that I started collecting something. Obviously, she wouldn't be disappointed!  
But at least I can now say that all my china is nicely stored in the living room buffet and china cabinet AND my laundry room is beautifully clean and decluttered.
For more blog posts featuring ten things on the tenth of the month, go to this link.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paint Party Friday: Hopes and Dreams on Prayer Flags

I'm posting to Paint Party Friday on Thursday because Friday is the 10th, and I plan to participate in Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth meme. I'll link up on Friday, though, so you should find this on the right day. Thanks to everyone for their comments on last Friday's painting and input about prayer flags. I did more research, and you can read my post about it here (in case you didn't see it already).  Today's painting (art journal page) is drawn with oil pastels and painted with water colors (twinks). There's more prayer flags and houses and my face for Day 6 of the 29 faces challenge. 
The art journal page started with my Day 5 sketch, which incorporated an idea from Gina of Daydream Believer about how to incorporate faces into my art journaling. She suggested writing in long, flowing hair, and I came up with this:
I like way it morphed into a full blown art journal page. I find myself doing that more and more often lately - starting with a sketch and then building from there. Do you do that much?
For more of 29 faces, go to this link.
For more of paint party friday, check this out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

pink butterfly

My dear friend Deb of Paper Turtle is hosting a gathering of butterflies for The Butterfly Project, a remembrance of the children who perished in the holocaust. You can read Deb's post here. Deb's plan is to gather 51 butterflies by May 1. I'm making two butterflies - one in pink and one in blue. Here's the pink one. It's made of corrugated paper, decorated with flowers on the top.
And stamps on the bottom. Deb's butterfly was made of fabric, but I am not a seamstress! So, I chose this sturdy paper and doubled it for good measure. My other butterfly is being made out of plaster. I'll be sure to post it when it's done.
I hope you decide to join in the butterfly project. It's destined to be one of those amazing blog happenings. I can just tell. The serendipity became apparent to me when I read the comment from my cousin Irene (in Houston, Texas) that she works down the street from the Holocaust Museum and will definitely be participating.  I wonder if she will be able to make a stain glass butterfly (that's her media of choice) or if that won't work for the display.  Will you be participating in the project? What will you make your butterfly out of?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prayer Flags and Butterflies and face 4 of 29

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback on my art journal page featuring prayer flags. To provide a bit more information, check out this link which describes their origin in Tibet or the wikipedia entry.  I learned that there is a "prayer flag project" run by artists, which you can read about here and also a "peace flag project," check it out here.  Both of these look like wonderful, artistic ventures which are based on the idea of prayer flags but which encourage artists to create their own designs rather than stick to the traditional ones.  I'm a bit of a traditionalists, so I'm not sure how I feel about that. But I'm going to think about it for a while.
And, in the meantime, I'm definitely going to participate in Deb's very cool "Butterfly Project" gathering. Check it out here.
What do you think about artists re-interpreting ancient traditions?
Today's art is my Day 4 Face for the 29 Faces Challenge. See more faces here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Class Review: 101 Faces with Carla Sonheim

I am finally finished with this wonderful class . . . or at least finished enough to write a review.  Carla Sonheim offered this class as a repeat of an earlier online class.  It cost $35 and ran for five jam-packed days.  She bills it as a "summer camp" or boot camp style class, with A LOT of assignments packed into five days. Each day began with an email and a warm up exercise (a PDF to print out). There were then two assignments, communicated via videos. One assignment was generally focused on drawing and the other was focused on painting. They covered a wide variety of media and asked participants to repeat the techniques 4-10 times. Sometimes faces were drawn from a reference photograph; others were drawn from the imagination. The goal was to have fun trying out a variety of media and to find a style that worked for you.  Carla established a flickr group where participants posted their faces and received comments. Comments could also be made on the class blog, but I didn't notice much activity there. 
Day 1 featured watercolor faces (from your imagination) and left-handed drawing. I loved the watercolor faces! Day 2 was about drawing with sharpie markers (from a photo reference) and portraits with an ink dropper. These were both difficult for me, but I was surprised to get a few decent results (including the one at the top of this post).  Day 3 was one line drawings (hated these!) and realistic drawings with pencil, sharpie and watercolor crayons (both from a photo reference). I found these difficult but a very good exercise. Day 4 was scribble drawings from live models (loved these) and graphite and pastel portraits from your imagination (drawn with an eraser). I didn't really care for the last two techniques, though the pastels were better than the graphite. Day 5 was drawing with colored pencils from a photo reference (difficult for me and made me realize that colored pencils are definitely not my medium); stylized charcoal drawing from a photo reference (I substituted pastels - love these!!!) and stylized conte crayon drawing from a photo reference (I substituted oil pastel crayons and enjoyed working with them). The final class assignment is to reflect on what you have done and make ten more faces in the style that works for you. 
I think my favorites were watercolor faces (from imagination), scribble drawings of live models and both pastel techniques, so I'll make more of each of those.
Overall, I thought this was a terrific class! I experimented with a variety of different media (and found it easy to substitute what I had for anything I was missing from the supply list) and really began to get a sense of the importance of shading (in realistic faces) and the difference between drawing from a reference vs. real life vs. from my imagination.  These last two things were wonderful insights for me. The flickr group worked well, and Carla visited often commenting on almost every face posted!  I also thought, at $35, it was reasonably priced for all the content.  In terms of improvement, I would have appreciated an introductory lesson or video focusing on the big picture of drawing faces (shapes, proportions, etc.). I think that if I had not learned this in an earlier class, I would have been really lost. There's a lot of "learn by observing and doing" (reinforced with repetition), without as much instruction or drawing theory. I also think I would have preferred to have the class run as a three to four week class, with the assignments spread out a bit more. Although I did the first 3 days in the first week of January, the other two got spread out. The videos are available forever, so I was able to pace myself, but by the time I got to days 4 and 5, there was not community left with which to interact. Overall, I give the class a solid A-.
I'd love to hear from others who took the class or others who are considering taking drawing classes.
OLW 2012 Weekly update: not much to report this week. I battled a bad cold most of the week and organized a big soccer event (Youth Night on Friday night), so didn't have the time or energy to do much. I did finish the Faces class and encouraged DH to call the handyman to haul away some things! I'll do better next week.